Ribbon demo on changes to SNAs

by Ian Begley

Teachers and parents hung ribbons in front of the railings of St John the Evangelist National School, Adamstown, recently in protest against changes affecting SNAs (special needs assistant) in schools.
Teachers and parents of children who require SNAs are concerned over new rules being introduced in September which will create significant obstacles to the provision of an SNA.
Lizzie Harrison, a Lucan mother whose son receives an SNA at St John the Evangelist NS, spoke to The Gazette about the benefits that this amenity brings to her child.
She said: “Daniel, aged 7, received an SNA because he had epilepsy and was getting up to two seizures a week, and also had some attention difficulties.
“He previously attended an Irish school, but had to leave because the teachers found it very difficult to manage his behaviour and it was very hard for him to manage the language.
“We then moved him to Adamstown and since he received an SNA it’s just been an amazing experience.
“He absolutely adores school now. By the time he finished in the other school he was really stressed because he wasn’t understanding the language.
“Because he has an SNA he is accepted by the other children and is included and encouraged to take part in their activities. Good SNAs actually make themselves redundant because they help the child to get to a stage where they’re not needed anymore.
“Daniel’s reading has got up to the standard where it should be and he’s just so happy in school now.
“He’s a different child and is so much happier and has made so many friends.
“I suppose when a lot of parents hear that their child needs an SNA they worry that they’re going to be singled out, but it actually had the opposite effect,” said Harrison.
Deputy Mayor of South Dublin Council and chairperson of St Thomas’s National School Cllr Liona O’Toole (Ind) said: “Every year I see the principals trying to hold onto their teachers and SNAs.
“The department needs to look at how SNA provision is allocated because if one child in a class of 10 needs an SNA and doesn’t get one all of the students will suffer.
“I see schools trying to amalgamate teachers or children together between schools that are close together to allow kids to get an SNA – it’s a big struggle for principals.”
Cllr O’Toole added that she believes not enough is being done to accommodate the increasing population of students in Lucan and Palmerstown, saying that she is going to work towards getting the Department of Education to deal with the schooling issues within the local area.

Related Articles